instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Picturing a World

When William Came

Cover, Saki, When William Came (1913)

In these fraught, puzzling, polarizing times, a what-if novel from before WWI is an oddly affecting picture of how citizens come to make peace with a new political order and their own violations of conscience. It offers shrewdly observed answers to the question, How could they?!? Set in an England that has been conquered after a one-week war with Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany, it is the work of a novelist, H. H. Munro (Saki) who knows human behavior too well and writes too slyly to produce simple-minded propaganda. 

 

 

When I ran across a reference to When William Came, I searched and found a review by Kate Macdonald, which in turn sent me to an online used-book site to buy a copy. It's not quite as funny as I had expected from Saki (though there are deliciously witty scenes); but it's quick read—and it lingers in the mind as both lens and mirror.

 

Incidentally, in one of those 'net serendipities, I had just ordered a forthcoming collection of stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner from Kate Macdonald's Handheld Press. What treasures do crop up! Bravo, brava, to all those who are keeping book culture alive.

Be the first to comment